Ethiopian Airlines to Build One of the World’s Largest Cargo Terminals

Ethiopian Airlines 777F
Ethiopian Airlines 777F

A German company, ICM airport techniques, has been awarded the turnkey project for the construction of an Ethiopian Airlines cargo warehouse that has a capacity to store 1.2 million tonnes per annum, for an undisclosed sum.

The company, which provides material systems for airports, and Ethiopian Airlines are negotiating over finances before signing the contract, according to a source close to the matter who wanted to remain anonymous.

“The new warehouse will mean no capacity shortage, which translates to no complaints and the best of service,” Tewolde Gebremariam, CEO of Ethiopian said last week during a celebration for the arrival of the first of six B777F aircraft it had ordered.

ICM, had previously constructed the Airlines’ cargo terminal along the ring road from Bole to St. Micheal church in 2005 on 14,000sqm space for 35 million dollars. Currently this terminal has a warehouse which can hold 350,000tns of cargo per annum and has a cold storage room with a space of 2000sqm that can go as low as minus 23 degrees Celsius.

Although at the time this was considered to be big, Ethiopia’s increasing export and import activity has required bigger storage space.

The amount of cargo being hauled by Ethiopian Airlines had increased from 42,000tns to 110,000tns from 2006 to 2011.

This has called for an increase and redesigning of warehouse space which the airline started working on in 2011. This was also the time when the Airline started negotiating with Boeing to increase the number of freighters by purchasing six of the new Boeing 777-freighters. The first one of these has arrived last week on Thursday.

A tender floated early December 2011 had called for the design and construction of a warehouse with a capacity to hold 1.2 million tonnes.

The warehouse, which is touted to become one of the largest in the world when completed, can contain both dry and perishable goods which need cold storage.

The capacity is identical to that of the Cargo Mega Terminal in Dubai built in 2008, although the 35,000sqm area and the 2.5 million tonnes overall capacity Dubai has when adding in previous warehouses, still exceeds that of Ethiopian by and large.

Around 10 companies had participated in the tender, according to the anonymous source. After reviewing technical and financial proposals, the Airline had decided to go with ICM.

A Chinese company has come in second, according to the source and it will be this company that will be handed the project if negotiations now fail with ICM.

The warehouse is to be constructed in two phases. The first phase which is expected to be completed in three years will increase warehouse capacity by 600,000tns per annum.

Once construction of the first phase is completed in three years the warehouse will have the capacity to hold 600,000tns per annum.

Until construction of the big warehouse is completed, the airline is building a temporary cold storage for perishable goods (flowers, fruit and vegetables) with a capacity to hold 65,000tns.

To this end the company has already awarded two companies the construction work for a total of around 60 million Br. For laying the foundation and flat structure, local contractors Asmelash and Sons were selected out of four companies that had participated in the tender. It will get 21.5 million Br for this work.

Holland Company Celtic Koeling B.V will handle the supply and installationtion of all gadgets including the shed and air conditioning units. They will be paid 1.5 million Euros and 1.4 million Br for this work.

“The temporary warehouse is expected to be finished by January 2013,” Tewolde Gebremariam had announced at the event organized to celebrate the arrival of the first B777F freighters.

These expansions are part of Ethiopian’s vision 2025 plan to have 20pc of the market share and operate 19 freighters and increase cargo by 820,000tns.

Thanks to its agricultural and Horticulture exports, Ethiopian’s cargo service, which started with chartered planes to Nairobi in 1946, has slowly become the leading cargo service provider in Africa with seven freighters which fly over 40 destinations.